The Ditch the Day Job Video Diaries: Oslo Slow Travel Special

Stylish

Yesterday I posted the third Mountain Shores podcast, recorded in the sunshine on a mountainside in Oslo. If you want to know how we came up with that name and what it means, have a listen! (you can also see all of my photos from the trip).

Meeting up with two of my blogging pals in real life for the first time felt like a pretty momentous occasion, so I also decided to base a special episode of the Ditch the Day Job Video Diaries around the trip, and also to make it public (if you want to see previous episodes, you can subscribe to my free newsletter).

Mountain Shores & Slow Travel in Oslo – a Podcast

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Mountain Shores – our view as we were recording the podcast.

The ‘podcast with no name’ now has a name. Here is the Mountain Shores Podcast episode 3, recorded in Oslo with my co-host Fabian Kruse and our regular guest Michael Nobbs.

We met up in Norway to attend Chris Guillebeau’s Party at the End of the World, to celebrate the fact he achieved his goal of visiting every country in the world by the age of 35 (it was also his birthday).

We talk about slow travel and taking time to make deeper connections (even at crazy parties), how we are each making April awesome in our own way (and feeling a little awkward about using that word) and of course, cakes!

New Year “What Ifs” Part 3 – The World Domination Edition

The “What Ifs” I’m asking you to consider in this third and final part of the series were mostly inspired by my trip to Portland for the 2012 World Domination Summit (aka WDS2012), which was definitely up there as one of the most life-changing events of 2012 for me.

Whilst I went there expecting to maybe get a few tips about running a freelance business, I got something entirely unexpected instead; a whole new way of looking at the world.

What if.. “no-one else belongs here more than you”?

Portland Firefighters

That was one of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown’s talk at WDS2012 in Portland, Oregon.

It’s a good reminder that you are just as worthy as anyone on this planet, or in any particular, unfamiliar, out-of-your-comfort-zone place you should find yourself. It was such a welcoming, empowering message to hear when I was away in a strange city on my own for the first time in years.

Ultimately though, and mostly because of the people I met there, Portland felt like a home from home.

Not only was it gloriously sunny the entire time I was there, not only did I get to enjoy healthy food, karaoke, the 4th of July celebrations with new friends, a blues festival, and bonding with beautiful people in the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, but I also got to explore the city. I particularly loved Powell’s Bookstore which is so big you need a map (or smartphone app) to get around it, and which has a cafe that’s open until 11pm and sells liquorice tea (my favourite).

Here are some of the photos I took during my time there:

Portland/WDS pics on Flickr: Part One Part Two Part Three

And please also check out the stunning photos from my WDS friend ‘Olasis’ who is one of several very talented photographers I met there.

Another favourite of the WDS community is Gregory Berg’s Radio Enso. He’s interviewed quite a few of the speakers at WDS as well as many other interesting folk and it’s well worth a listen.

What if.. someone told you they believe in you?

Chris Guillebeau gave everyone at WDS2012 $100 to invest how we saw fit. It felt like an extremely generous and meaningful gift but one which came with a fair amount of responsibility. In my case, I couldn’t decide on one thing, so I ended up investing in quite a few different things, including myself!

It’s hard to explain what this gift meant.. a lot of people said that they felt that the real gift was that they got the message that someone believed in them.

Here are a couple of great projects started by other WDS attendees using their $100:

Natalie Sisson’s $100 Change e-course

Dave Ursillo’s The Literati writer’s group

What if.. you told someone you believed in them?

If it wasn’t for the support of my primary school teacher Mrs Bliss, I might never have believed in myself as a writer. I might never have come back to it after a long hiatus during college.

Not enough creative people get this kind of support, and frankly, we deserve better. I now see it as part of my mission in life to support creative people in their endeavours at the same time that I work towards becoming a creative professional myself.

I’ve done it in the past through writing for local magazines about music, film and books, and of course more recently through this blog. I also buy records from local musicians when I can, and support people online who are doing good things.

Kickstarter and other fundraising sites are a great way to support other people’s creative endeavours, and I helped to fund quite a few projects this year from people I admire. 2012 was also the year that Kickstarter finally allowed people from the UK to get involved.

One project I was keen to support with my $100 was this one which Chris Guillebeau tweeted about which aims to create portable solar power:

%CODE13%

What if.. you believed in yourself?

But I also invested $100 in myself and booked a session with confidence coach Steve Errey, who I met on one of my last days in Portland. After speaking to him for an hour I had the insight that I not only had a lot to compassion to offer other people, but that I also needed to treat myself with some. This has made a big difference already in my approach to how I treat myself on a daily basis and the way in which I’m going forward.

What if… you used your knowledge or skills to help others?

After I got back from Portland I volunteered at a couple of social media workshops organised by the North Edinburgh News, and also helped the organisers film a couple of videos to promote the sessions. This was really rewarding, especially when I was able to help people to publish their first blog post or understand how to make simple videos for the web. Was it entirely unselfish of me? No – because one of the side effects was that it also helped me boost my own confidence – plus it was really good fun. So much so, that I’ve now volunteered to help out at the Edinburgh Social Media Surgeries which return later this month.

What if.. you honoured your heart’s desires instead of chasing meaningless goals?

Desire12

I attended a talk by Danielle La Porte at WDS2012 which was very inspiring. I was very impressed by her calm but confident poise and the intensity with which she shared her wisdom and experience.

Although her book The Firestarter Sessions had just come out, at the time she hinted that she had a new project in the works, which turned out to be the book and multimedia extravaganza that is The Desire Map. She suggests that we set goals without fully understanding why – in fact, what we are seeking is how those goals will make us feel, rather than the goal itself.

In a recent video, Danielle says “your feelings are like road signs – they always point back to your soul”.

Get the Desire Map here (this is an affiliate link which means you will be supporting the Clear-Minded Creative if you make a purchase).

What if.. it’s ok to be the quiet one?

One of the best books I read last year was Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts (yes, she also talked at WDS, in conversation with Jonathan Fields). Now that I’m a teetotaller (temporarily, at least), I’ve realised that drinking has long been a way for me to become more extroverted and dealing with big social occasions, although it could be said it often took me too far the other way!

Being sober, I’m coming to terms more and more with being an introvert – someone who needs alone time to recharge – instead of feeling bad, or conflicted about it. Of course the book explores the concept much more deeply, and is well worth reading for both introverts and extroverts. It ultimately made me feel much more accepting of my natural inclination to be “the quiet one” and to see that the world needs introverts (who tend to be more creative) and extroverts equally.

You can find out more about the book by watching Susan’s TED Talk below:

Phew. I think that’s enough “what ifs” for one week. I hope these have provoked a few new possibilities for you. Do you have any suggestions to add, life-changing experiences, or thought-provoking books to recommend? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Everyone’s a Winner, Baby! (Results of the $100 Start Up Giveaway)

Finally (and I apologise profusely for the delay) it’s time to announce the winners of the $100 Start Up Book Giveaway.

For the chance to win both of Chris Guillebeau’s books I asked:

How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

You might remember that Chris gave all 1000 attendees of the World Domination Summit $100 with a similar challenge to each of us. Here’s the video if you want to see what happened:

At first I was a little disappointed in the lack of entrants to the competition, with only three people actually responding! I can only assume that most readers of this blog went right out and bought the book already after my review.. ;)

But I’m a great believer in quality rather than quantity, and the three responses were very heartening to read indeed.

Juliet, aka Crafty Green Poet, had this suggestion, which I’ve chosen as the overall winner because I believe it is really in line with the generosity behind Chris’s gesture as well as being a really great idea:

There are so many ideas but, I was thinking to spend $100 on copies of The $100 dollar start up and giving them to community libraries and schools in ‘poorer areas’ so that the local communities and students can be inspired by all the ideas in the book. Who knows how many great projects that would inspire?

What Anne said was really heartfelt, touching and also very encouraging in terms of what I’m doing with the blog – making my decision an extremely tough one despite only having 3 entries to choose from!

I’m in the business of encouraging and morally supporting my three adult children to follow their dreams and live their lives doing something they love and are good at, so not only are they fulfilling themselves, they are doing something positive in the world. All have chosen different areas of the Arts. I would invest in speciality books and some you and others are recommending on your blog. The ‘$100 Start Up’ is on the wishlist already, but I’m hoping you might pick me.

As I write my youngest son is preparing presentations and video for an application for funding for a ‘Start Up’ to further develop a prototype, so this would be invaluable and immediately useful.

Thank you for doing what you’re doing. I thoroughly enjoy reading and watching your progress and it lends extra confidence and inspiration, to encourage and support my children in their endeavours. The more happy and positively motivated people in this world, with the priority of following their true calling in life, creatively using the strengths they possess and for the benefit of others, the better, healthier and happier the world will be.

And finally, long time pal of this blog Vishnu was really being supportive and encouraging when he said:

I’d use the $100 back into your business, Milo to pay for some service, product or platform you might need to bring your services into the world and to have more access to the Clear-Minded Creative. So, my suggestion is invest in yourself to help bring out the brilliance (compliment) of this site into the world. Use the money to create that product, bring an ebook into the world, design a cover, etc, hire your cat to do a promo video.

Now there are advantages to only having 3 entries, the main one being that although as the overall winner Juliet will receive both books ($100 Start Up and The Art of Non-Conformity) as promised, I’m also going to send a copy of the $100 Start Up to the two runners up, because I believe they will both use the book for very positive means.

I’d like to talk to Juliet though about how we could put her idea into practice. Maybe there’s a way to make all of the Clear-Minded Classics so far more accessible for people who may not know about them or be able to afford them?

I’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts, opinions, advice in the comments below. And if you were one of the attendees at WDS I’d love to hear what you did with your $100 investment.

WDS

Vulnerability, Creativity and Redemption – WDS2012 Dispatch #3

Lovin’ It – Photo by Armosa Studios

This is my third dispatch from the World Domination Summit 2012. These are the themes which hit home for me the most from the event.

Read Dispatch #1: Change Your Life, Change the World

Read Dispatch #2: Beautiful People

Brene Brown – Photo by Armosa Studios

Vulnerability

WDS2012 was put together with an amazing amount of thoughtfulness and professionalism. It ran like clockwork, and was truly world class. Even the scheduling of each talk seemed to be perfectly planned.

Brené Brown, whose work I wasn’t familiar with previously, did the opening talk, which pulled the rug from under my feet.

She told us that our experience in any situation “cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable”. As she says in her TEDx talk which I’ve embedded below, vulnerability is “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love”.

The Creativity Slump

According to Brown, “unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief and rage”. She talked about how children, though naturally creative, were hitting a ‘creativity slump’ at around 4th and 5th grade (9-11 years old). At this age, children start to feel shame, and the criticism of teachers, parents and peers only makes this worse. But as Brown says, and I wholeheartedly agree, that no-one has the right to tell a child at that age that they’re not creative.

What Drives Me

I got a massive insight that this is actually a big part of what drives me to write this blog. As someone who lost my faith in my own creativity for several years, and then rediscovered it, I want to help adults recover from the pain of the creativity slump and believe in themselves as creative people. I met some fantastic people at the conference who want to address the problem at the source and stop it from happening to children at all – which I would love to support also. But for me, it’s helping adults who have relapsed creatively or have doubts about their own creative abilities that drives me as I feel their pain!

Contribution and the Power of Uncool

Brown emphasised the importance of contribution over criticism and cynicism. She said that she will only respond to feedback if it’s from someone who’s also in the arena, getting their ass kicked. To everyone else she just says, “suck it”.

She talked about the power of being uncool and used a quote from the film Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

She got us to laugh, dance and sing, and then to do our coolest poses, to demonstrate that the former involved movement, and the latter stillness. She said that being cool involves control, disengagement and self protection, and being uncool involves movement, activity and engagement.

Brown spoke of the importance of wholeheartedness, and the need to belong instead of just fitting in. She said “who you are will always trump who you think people will want you to be”. We all got up and sang ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. The Glee version. Talk about uncool.

Chris and Brene’s duet of uncoolness Photo by Armosa Studios

Brown is an incredible speaker, and her talk moved me deeply. I felt a shift in myself. Instead of worrying about networking with as many people as possible, I relaxed. I opened myself up to serendipity. I went with the flow. I allowed myself to be comfortable with being quiet. I sensed the same shift in the other people there. We were open to deep connections and conversation. Brown’s talk set the tone for the entire experience from then on.

Scott Harrison, photo by Armosa Studios

Redemption

And now that I was open, and vulnerable, Scott Harrison stepped onto the stage and told a story of heartbreak, of losing your soul and regaining it again. Of unbelievable hardship, and of hope and love. As a child, he watched his mother, a passionate journalist, become an invalid due to carbon monoxide poisoning. He then spent 10 years as a nightclub promoter in New York and addict to every vice imaginable. He hit rock bottom and came face to face with his own spiritual bankruptcy. Harrison knew he needed to make a change, so he joined the Mercy Corps. There, incidentally, he met a kindred soul, Chris Guillebeau.

Chris & Scott, photo by Armosa Studios

As official photojournalist he had to take photographs of people with the most horrible facial disfigurements, who had walked for days and weeks for the chance of treatment by the visiting, volunteer doctors. He watched as they were successfully treated. He learned that the common denominator that led to the spread of these diseases was a lack of access to clean water. He discovered that one billion people don’t have access to clean water.

And he decided that he would solve the problem, one well (or whatever solution works) at a time. Not only that but he would completely reinvent how charity is done. He would ensure 100% of all donations went directly to providing water for the people who needed it. He ensured that every one who donated would be informed of exactly what their money provided thanks to GPS technology. And he used his promotional prowess to create a modern, sophisticated brand.

By the end of Scott’s talk, all 1000 attendees had pledged to give up their birthdays to help bring clean water to those that need it most. During his talk, I cried. The double whammy of these two opening talks had an immense effect. Again, something has shifted within me. I don’t want to be selfish any more, or guarded, or half-hearted. It feels like redemption is possible, within reach.

Personal Transformation

JD Roth talked honestly and movingly about personal transformation, and how by improving himself he has begun to help others. He pointed out that we who were present are extraordinarily fortunate. Unlike the majority of the world’s population we have the opportunity to be independent, to learn, and take risks and chances, and make a difference.

Spirituality and a desire to give service to others are aspects of myself that I’ve repressed. Because I was scared, embarrassed, lazy. I was not being wholehearted. That will change now. I will change now.

Chris on stage, photo by  Armosa Studios

What Drives Chris Guillebeau?

I was curious about what drives Chris Guillebeau before. Whilst I chose to believe he was a positive person, I didn’t know how much of what he did was a cleverly crafted public persona.

Now I strongly believe Chris Guillebeau is deeply driven to change the world for the better. He strongly believes that this is the most important thing that we can do, and more importantly he believes that it is possible.

He has surrounded himself with people who believe the same. He has gathered 1000 people with shared values together in the beautiful city of Portland.

$100 envelope – photo by Armosa Studios

On the Sunday evening Chris walked out onto the stage. He talked slowly and purposefully, with a massive grin on his face. We knew something very (un) cool was about to happen (by the way, Chris has an unexpectedly great stage presence – and he is very funny).

He reminded us of the Parable of the Talents – in which a man distributes his wealth to three people before setting off on his travels, with varying results.

Chris Guillebeau said that what always interested him was the motivations of the man who gave the money. Maybe he was just curious to see what might happen.

He explained how, after losing a lot of money last year, this year’s event made a modest profit and also received an anonymous donation. It turned out that this amount was enough to give $100 dollars back to all 1000 paying attendees. That’s $100,000.

As we left the theatre, we each received an envelope with a $100 bill inside.

When we registered on Friday, we were all given a copy of Chris’s book – the $100 Start Up. Chris gave us each a gift, and a challenge. He left us with no excuses.

As I typed these words, sitting in a Portland coffee shop (I’ve since returned home), I feel that this has been a life changing experience. Of course, action speaks louder than words.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Competition Time!

Could You Change the World with $100?

I’m giving away one copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Start Up (read my review here) and one copy of his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity to whoever gives the best answer to this question:

 How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

Post your idea on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page or in the comments below and I’ll pick the one I like best in a week’s time – at which point I’ll request a postal address from that person.

I’ll send the books to anywhere in the world, but be aware that it might take a while for them to arrive if you live outside the UK. Also please note that my choice will be entirely subjective so please don’t get upset if yours doesn’t get chosen – I’m really interested in seeing any responses that come in.

Change Your Life, Change the World – WDS2012 Dispatch #1

I just got back from an amazing trip to Portland, Oregon, where I attended the second annual World Domination Summit.

It’s a provocative name for an event. A number of times whilst walking around the city we were asked by locals what was happening and what the name tags we were wearing were for. The term ‘World Domination’ raised some eyebrows.

I was quick to point out that the name was tongue-in-cheek, and that in fact the event has an extremely positive purpose. I mentioned the fact that a number of speakers had also done TED or TEDx talks. The locals seemed relieved.

Still though, it’s tricky to explain exactly what WDS is all about, and to get across just how positive an experience it was.

The theme of the conference was ‘how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?’. Within that theme, Chris Guillebeau also highlighted some shared values of those attending; community, adventure and service. Speaking about personal transformation, co-organiser JD Roth summed it up as ‘if you change yourself, you can change the world’. Here’s how a few other people described it:

 WDS is Woodstock for World Changers – Jonathan Fields

The WDS experience is so amazingly out of this world that its kinda like being abducted by aliens, only difference is you go willingly. You remember everything but still not sure what the hell happened. You want to tell everyone you know but unfortunately not everyone will believe you and some may even think you are nuts. Only those that have shared this experience with you can truly understand how you feel and how you life will be forever changed! – Hung Pham, Photographer

WDS is about taking over the world for good – because people with good hearts should have more power – Jason Digges, Jaybird Productions

More Than I Bargained For

When I decided to attend WDS2012 I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. I followed the work of a number of the speakers, such as Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim and Danielle La Porte; and of course Chris Guillebeau himself. I also knew some of the bloggers attending.

I had been a part of this loose and diverse community for a while, via social media. I thought it would be interesting to be there in person, to be in the thick of it. I was curious to see what my favourite bloggers and authors were like in person, on stage and off.

I wanted to challenge myself. To see if I could come out of my shell enough to make some meaningful connections.

I thought I might get some inspiration on where to take my freelance business and blog, and how I could maybe bring them together and ensure that they were aligned with what I care about.

I got something completely different than I expected, and 100 times better.

I’ll be posting updates about the conference over the next few days so stay tuned!

Competition Time!

Could You Change the World with $100?

I’m giving away one copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Start Up (read my review here) and one copy of his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity to whoever gives the best answer to this question:

 How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

Post your idea on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page or in the comments below and I’ll pick the one I like best in a week’s time – at which point I’ll request a postal address from that person.

I’ll send the books to anywhere in the world, but be aware that it might take a while for them to arrive if you live outside the UK. Also please note that my choice will be entirely subjective so please don’t get upset if yours doesn’t get chosen – I’m really interested in seeing any responses that come in.

My Bid for World Domination in 2012

In two week’s time the second World Domination Summit is taking place in Portland, Oregon. The event is organised by Chris Guillebeau and the speakers at the event include some of my favourite bloggers/authors, including Jonathan Fields, Pam Slim, Scott Belksy and Danielle La Porte.

Here’s a video from the last event:

When tickets went on sale at the beginning of the year I took a chance and bought myself one, as I knew they would sell out fast. I was still not even sure if I was going to leave my job at that point, though deep down I must have known I would.

I still can’t quite believe I’m going! According to the WDS site’s calculations, I’m making an 8400 kilometre journey, and I’m not the only one coming from far and wide, with people coming from all over the globe.

I’ve been preparing by watching the daft comedy series Portlandia on Netflix, which has made me wonder what I’m letting myself in for. The series stars Kyle MacLachlan, aka Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks as the Mayor of Portland, as well as various other guest stars.

According to the above video, “Portland is the city where young people go to retire!” so it’s no surprise that a lot of bloggers with unconventional businesses and lifestyles would end up living there, as well as Chris himself – for example Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing, Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind and his wife Ev`Yan of Sex Love Liberation, Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike, Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology, and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens (thanks to another Portland resident, Janet of Purple Pandy for compiling this handy list!).

This trip is going to take me way out of my comfort zone. I’ve never taken such a long flight anywhere on my own before, in fact I haven’t really travelled anywhere on my own properly before at all (apart from going from Scotland to Ireland which hardly counts). Add to that the fact I know hardly anyone (though I’ve had brief contact online with a few other people attending, including CMC type Melissa Dinwiddie who’s featured in the above video from last year with her ukulele!).

So I am very nervous about the experience but it seems appropriate to do it in the year that I’m testing the waters of being freelance/building a creative business, and while I’ve still got a few months of funds left. I’m expecting to meet quite a few inspiring people and possibly learn a few things about myself in the process. So.. here goes!

If you’ve taken a step outside your comfort zone recently or in the past, tell me about it in the comments. And if you’re also going to WDS I’d love it if you introduced yourself!

p.s. I’ll be sending out the latest update to the Ditch the Day Job Diaries on either Sunday or Monday * which will include a sneak preview of my new micro-manifesto which will be released at the beginning of July.  *Correction – the video and email now won’t be sent until next week at the same time as the manifesto will be released.

You can subscribe here to catch up with all 14 episodes, including the most recent, which ended on something of a cliffhanger as I considered the possibility of going back to full-time work…

100-start-up-cover

Clear-Minded Classic #9: The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau

You may have heard of Chris Guillebeau. He is at the forefront of a new breed of bloggers and creative entrepreneurs who are making a substantial income from their creative output, and inspiring thousands of other people to do the same.

As well as writing for free on his blog and in his two hugely popular manifestos, Chris has published a number of Unconventional Guides * which offer up to the minute advice on freelancing, publishing and travel hacking, and even the art of building your own online empire. As well as pursuing his goal of travelling to every country in the world before the age of 35, Chris has worked tirelessly to build his platform and a community of people around him, and he’s made a fantastic living from it.

In his new book, the $100 Start Up, which is already out in the US and available in the UK from this week,  Chris provides a clear guide to getting started with your own business, using the examples of hundreds of members of his community who have done the same. He provides concrete figures too – he only features those who are earning at least $50,000 a year, but many of the businesses featured bring in several hundred thousand pounds a year. Most of them started with around $100 dollars.

That’s pretty amazing, right?

As Chris says in the introduction:

Small businesses aren’t new, but never before have so many possibilities come together in the right place at the right time.

One of the key points that Chris is making is that anyone can start a business if they can just grasp some of the key concepts in the book and apply them to their own situation.

Most of them aren’t geniuses or natural-born entrepreneurs. They are ordinary people who made a few key decisions that changed their lives.

The man himself

A New Angle on Creative Careers

The book makes a great companion to two previous Clear-Minded Classics: Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields and Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim. Both Jonathan and Pam are friends and associates of Guillebeau, and their messages are similar.

Whilst Career Renegade is a great ‘awakener’ to alternative career possibilities for creative people, and Slim’s book is all about the transition from corporate employee to business owner, the message of $100 Start Up is more straightforward and not necessarily aimed at creative types.

It deals with all types of businesses, from dog walking to language learning. But it isn’t hard to see that anyone who is able to turn $100 into a liveable annual wage is using a great deal of creativity. And Chris himself is a great example – a writer who is extremely successful, not just scraping by.

The Basics of Business

The “$100 start up” Chris is recommending could also be referred to as a micro, or freedom business. Your goal is to have freedom for yourself, but to do that you need to provide real value for others, and to communicate that value to them as clearly as possible.

Ultimately, Chris’s message is a simple one. He covers the basics of building a small business and emphasises that you don’t need more that, at least to get going. Taking action, and making that first sale, is all important.

The basics of starting a business are very simple; you don’t need an MBA, venture capital, or even a detailed plan. You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to pay for it, and a way to get paid.

He adds that it helps to have an offer and a way of building interest, or hustling, and to use well proven techniques such as a launch strategy.

What the book goes on to outline is bound to make a few internet marketers sweat; people have been selling this information online packaged in expensive clothes for a long time now. Chris has brought the advice all together into one easy to follow book which will cost you around a tenth of his suggested start-up costs, much less than most of the information products which include similar info.

Throughout the book Guillebeau provides simple, but comprehensive one page checklists to help with choosing between competing projects, creating a basic business plan and market testing – as well as the essential ‘reality check’. You can get additional resources at the dedicated website for the book.

Of course, there are plenty of areas touched on in the book that you might want to investigate more deeply. But if you have any interest in earning money on your own terms, once you’ve read this book you’ll be struggling to come up with an excuse for not getting started right away. As Guillebeau says:

“The most important thing is to keep taking action”.

Buy the book at:*

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

This photo isn’t staged at all, honest..

How I Intend to Use the Book – Action & Commitment

I’ve bought a number of products from Chris in the past and have found them very useful in my transition from civil servant to freelance writer. His blog was also a key inspiration behind this one.

However the book is a great reminder to me that I have been stalling somewhat in using the knowledge I already have. I could potentially earn money in more ways than just copywriting for businesses, and I intend to more fully explore some of these other options.

It is also an eye-opener when it comes to how much money many of the people featured are earning on a regular basis and whilst my quality of life is more important to me, it has convinced me I need to be a bit more ambitious in terms of my financial goals.

Disclaimer

Chris is one of those ‘everyman’ figures – someone who seems relatively normal and therefore inspires others to follow his lead. However he is a very smart guy who works extremely hard. Not everyone can be him!

Multimedia Journalist and blogger Adam Westbrook, who is briefly featured in the book, has a great summary of the kind of mindset needed for this kind of work – he highlights Courage and Commitment as the keys to starting a business. Clear-Minded Creative Type Melissa Dinwiddie also highlights the importance of mindset and talks about how she has been inspired by Chris Guillebeau.

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I struggle with the commitment part e.g. when it comes to consistently working on this blog, and I’m actively trying to improve my own habits and work ethic.

All the information in the world isn’t enough if you don’t follow through, and this is a great reminder to keep pushing myself. Basically, if this book doesn’t inspire me (and you!) to get moving, nothing will.

(note: the above links are affiliate links which means if you buy them, Amazon might one day send me a gift voucher (I’m not holding my breath). The link above to the Unconventional Guides website is also an affiliate link, but Chris’s affiliate programme is a lot more generous so I might actually earn some cash if you use that one. There is more info on affiliate promotions in the book!)

Unconventional Guides

Inspiration Supercharged

Kaffee

This is a guest post by Clear-Minded Creative Type Fabian Kruse of The Friendly Anarchist. All the photos featured are also his handywork.

Travelling through several countries on two different continents, living in eight different cities (and one island), switching apartments every couple of weeks and visiting dozens of parks, sights and landmarks nearby doesn’t sound like the ideal way to get creative work done.

To be honest, it probably isn’t. And still, while doing this over the course of this year, two books got somehow written.

Here’s the thing: Even though learning to be productive anywhere was quite a challenge for me, getting input and inspiration on the way – from the South American Andes to the Austrian Alps, from Caribbean beaches to Berlin’s club culture – was what fuelled my work more than anything else.

If you are a creative type and thinking about travelling the world to find inspiration, here’s my personal plea for you to get your suitcase packed and your ticket booked!

It’s also a plea for a different kind of travel, a plea for diving into local culture and moving off the beaten track. The right mix of connecting and disconnecting, getting lost and finding input, constant creation and conscious moments of leisure is what will provide you with plenty of fertile grounds for your creative endeavours.

Chicas

1) Connect, Connect, Connect

When moving to a new city, the easiest way to get a feeling for the place is to connect with as many locals as possible.

Ask for their recommendations, and make sure to state you’re interested in things that go beyond the usual tourist spots: Which are the up and coming districts? Where does the alternative culture thrive? What about local events that are generally ignored by tourists?

If you’re shy or don’t speak the language, simply take some time to observe: Which are the places crowded by natives rather than tourists? Which medium of transport do they prefer, how do they deal with each other, which kind of food do they eat?

I had some of the best and most inspiring travel moments when attending champeta parties in the barrios of Cartagena, drinking draft beer in the shady bars around San Salvador’s central market, or trying to find the best ajiaco soups in the suburbs of Bogotá. I wouldn’t have experienced any of those places if I hadn’t connected with locals who invited me to accompany them.

2) Then: Disconnect

Disconnection is the second major element of being creative on the road for me. While it’s admittedly not good for blog traffic and social media presence, I have noticed that fully immersing myself in a new place will skyrocket my creativity.

This means: Ignore email for a while, close your Twitter client, even leave your laptop and cellphone at home and just start to walk around, being totally in the here and now. It’s hard to get a feeling for the area if you’re looking at a screen all the time!

Pieces of Vienna 9

3) Getting Lost: The Anti-Guidebook

Sure, you wouldn’t want to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, but if you’re up for taking inspiration to a new level, don’t just stop there. Move beyond the photographic highlights and the recommended restaurants, even if time is short.

The easiest way to do this: Walk around your destination until you don’t have any idea where you are. Then, find your way back. Taxis are not allowed, unless you really are drifting.

Of course, this advice is to be taken with a grain of salt when you’re travelling in dangerous areas, but even cities like Medellín in Colombia provide plenty of opportunities to get lost without risking to get mugged on your way.

4) Rip, Mix, Burn

We’re living in a remix culture in a remix world. I believe that everything you see and experience on your travels will be reflected in your creative work in one form or the other, anyway – so why not embrace it consciously and create the craziest remixes you can make up?

Cross traditional indigenous music with punk rock from back home, mix Indonesian shadow puppet theatre with early Austrian expressionism, combine magic realism and gonzo journalism.

Even if you end up doing this just for your personal amusement, it will be a relieving practice that will impact your approach to creative work. Bonus tip: If you’re interested in “meta remixes”, be sure to check out the immigrant quarters of the city you’re at: The amicable “clash of cultures” (like the meeting of Austrian and Balkan traditions in Vienna’s 16th district) will baffle your expectations and make your creativity thrive and prosper.

Die Prozess

5) Your Travel Journal

Don’t just collect your receipts, photos and memories from the trip, do something with them! The classical format of this is a travel journal. But as this stuff tends to backlog quickly, experiment with keeping the journal regularly and in real-time, even when on the move.

You won’t have more time later, anyway – and if you need to get some photo prints done or copies made, you can do this in most cities in the world nowadays. The results might look a bit less polished than a journal created back at home, but the real-time process can trigger a lot of creative energy for your other projects.

6) The (Playful) Do Habit

There are many challenges when it comes to being creative on the road, but the principal one is the same as always: You have to do stuff in order to get stuff done! Trite but true – you have to get going in order to make some progress with your creative work! For me, the thing that tends to hold me back me the most is an exaggerated perfectionism and an all too serious approach to creativity. Thankfully, there’s an easy remedy: Be playful! The only thing that matters is to keep moving, to keep creating, to keep doing. Circumstances will never be perfect, but despite of that, taking small but real steps towards your magnum opus is the only thing you can do to make headway.

7)In Defense of Idleness

Adopting a do habit has a flipside, of course! While some people seem to thrive on crammed agendas and stressful lifestyles, I believe that most of us actually benefit from regularly enjoying some hours of idleness!

The reason for this is simple: Idleness gives your brain time to process all the input you permanently receive. It will lead to new connections, new insights, and new ideas. This is of course even more important if you are permanently traveling and exploring.

The things you see and experience will have an impact on you, and it could be helpful to give yourself the proverbial headspace to deal with them. And let’s be honest: Not only will your creativity benefit from some leisurely hours here and there. In a world of total work, doing nothing for a little while can simply be a delightful act of rebellion.

Amazonia - Be Prepared

Wow, he has got around a bit hasn’t he? 

Fabian’s new book Productive Anywhere is available now, and features great advice on travelling and getting things done as well as great interviews and other bonus info.

To get a free taster you can listen to or download a transcript of his interview with Chris Guillebeau,  who currently runs a hugely successful online business whilst being well on his way to completing his mission of travelling to every country in the world by the age of 35. So yeah, probably worth a listen.

Disclaimer: I will get a cut of the profits if you follow my link to Fabian’s book and buy it, but the cost to you remains the same. Then once I’m filthy rich from I can travel all around the world like Fabian does, drinking the spoils away in a variety of Caribbean beach hut bars. 

I Want to Believe The Hype - Stallio

Is Your Scepticism Holding You Back?

Image: I Want to Believe The Hype by Stallio

A massive thank you to everybody who has commented, spread the word on Twitter & Facebook, or emailed me with feedback about the first week of The Clear-Minded Creative – the response has been fantastic.

The blog was even featured on The Guardian Edinburgh, which amusingly attracted my very own “hater” in the comments, who described me as “like Anthony Robbins meets Adrian Mole”.

Unfortunately for my hater, I actually take that as a compliment – I was a big fan of Sue Townsend’s geeky creation as a kid, and I also think Anthony Robbins has a lot of good things to say.

What?? I hear you gasp!

Wait a minute – don’t tell me – might you be hugely sceptical or cynical about self-development?

If so, I can totally relate. It’s hard not to be in the face of an ever-increasing queue of self-appointed ‘gurus’, lining up to sell you the ‘secret’ or ‘hidden key’ to success, or a miracle cure for your insomnia/low self-esteem/alektorophobia (fear of chickens) – especially when you have to remortgage your house to afford it.

Anyone who sets themselves up as a guru immediately sets alarm bells ringing in our minds. Nobody’s perfect after all, so if someone’s selling us their lifestyle or personality as something we should be aspiring to, I for one can’t help wondering what they’re not telling us about this perfect life of theirs, like what skeletons they have in their closet or bodies buried under their patio.

Okay, I have an over-active imagination but you might have the same nagging sensation that the image they’re portraying is not quite the whole truth.

Throughout my adult life I’ve fluctuated between wide-eyed naivety (or open-mindedness depending on your view), and a stubborn cynicism. The truth is though that I regret the extended periods where I was most sceptical and closed-off to the possibilities of self-improvement.

But Surely It’s Good to be a ‘Healthy Sceptic?’

Now I do believe that there is such thing as healthy scepticism, because people need to have a sense of when people are trying to con them and scepticism of generally accepted “truths” can be a very healthy thing. We need to challenge pointless traditions and out-dated systems and opinions.

However if a person is too sceptical about things that could be helpful to them surely it is counter-productive.

Old-School Self-Help

We’ve all heard of self-help gurus who have become hugely successful such as Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Brian Tracy. Whilst the advice these people offer can often be very helpful for anyone willing to put in the hard work to implementing it, they also often charge a premium for their services and use pushy sales techniques which could put people off.

And many people can come away disappointed because they thought there would be an easy answer to their problems.

Despite this, I personally have benefited from the advice of these old school self-help types because I gave them the benefit of the doubt and listened to the useful things they had to say.

And the likes of Anthony Robbins have inspired others, such as life coach Tim Brownson who is bringing self-help kicking and screaming into modern times with his no-nonsense, but highly effective approach. You can tell just by reading his excellent blog that Tim is no ordinary life coach.

Aesthetics are Important

These days, someone like Chris Guillebeau who uses fresh and modern design is more likely to get the trust of the modern creative person than someone like Brian Tracy with his old school aesthetics. But sometimes it’s worth pushing past your preconceptions.

The Advantages of an Open Mind

This excellent article on the same topic at The School of Life suggests we need to reclaim a sense of ‘sceptical optimism and down to earth happiness’.

With an open mind you can look past things like aesthetics and find some useful information.  And no-one’s saying you have to agree with everything a person says to get something useful out of it. Each person is unique and a critical eye is of course necessary in order to pick out the specific things that apply to your own personality, talents and life situation.

Do you agree or disagree that there are benefits to having a more open mind? Have your say in the comments.